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The FBI is investigating an alleged break-in to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s computers. It appears as though the bank was the target of a cyberattack, along with at least four other undisclosed U.S. banks that were similarly attacked.

The scope of the cyberattack, the resulting potential damage and any details about the attack itself, such as its duration, are yet to be clarified. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co is investigating, along with law enforcement authorities, the alleged attack.

“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day,” said J.P. Morgan spokeswoman Patricia Wexler. We have multiple layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels to fend off any attempt”, added Wexler.

The cyberattack was probably carried out using a malicious software that had recently been installed in the bank’s network by one of its employees.

Computer hackers’ favorite method of hacking computer networks with strong external defenses is to take over a computer within the organization’s internal network, which has an access to the financial and administrative systems.

iHLS Israel Homeland Security

Taking over a bank employee’s computer can be carried out using either or both following ways:

  • Through a rogue employee: this person can deliberately install a malicious code in the bank’s systems, thereby opening the backdoor to hackers to enter the bank’s cyberspace as they please. The potential damage is staggering, since the adverse intruder is a legitimate user without any precautions or low-key profile, capable, for example, of approving hundreds of transactions to various bank accounts worldwide and execute them.
  • Using an unwitting bank employee’s computer as a pawn: taking advantage of the pawn-user’s authorizations and entries as a corridor enables hackers to wreak havoc. The delivery method is usually an external disk, dongle, an email with a malicious code, unwitting clicking on a video or clicking on an exe file.

The scope of the attack on J.P. Morgan’s computer network, coupled with the similar timing, means and circumstances of the cyberattacks on additional US financial institutions, seems to suggest, according to sources close to the investigation, organized crime elements in Russia or other former Soviet Union countries might be involved.